In a perfect world, everyone would be able to fall asleep the second their head hits the pillow, stay asleep all night, and wake up feeling completely refreshed. Unfortunately, for many people, this isn’t the case. Many people struggle to fall asleep at night, and others wake up several times during the night. There are some people whose sleeping issues are much more frightening. Sleep paralysis: Do you ever wake up and cant move?
A Strange Phenomenon
There is a very scary phenomenon called sleep paralysis. People who suffer from this condition wake up and are unable to move their body at all. What could be scarier than being completely paralyzed when you wake up. You don’t know why it is happening or when you will start getting any feeling back. There are some people whose condition is so serious that they wake up feeling like there is someone sitting on top of their chest.
Not As Uncommon As You Might Think
The idea of sleep paralysis is terrifying. Many people don’t have it or know anyone who does; however, it is more common than you think. According to a 2011 study, 7.6 percent of the population has this sleeping disorder.
What Is Sleep Paralysis?
When you hear people describe sleep paralysis, they talk about the inability to move. They also talk about an unusual presence lurking in the room. These descriptions make it easy to understand how scary this condition is. It may be scary, but it isn’t a sign of any medical issues. It also isn’t dangerous. It might be terrifying, but you cannot die from it.
The reason that people suffer from sleep paralysis is unclear. However, doctors believe that it is due to the interruption of the transition of different sleep stages. During the REM stage of sleep, which stands for rapid eye movement, the body goes into a paralyzed state called REM atonia. This is what keeps people from moving and acting violently reacting to their dreams. REM atonia protects your body while your dreams set in. People who have sleep paralysis remain in the REM atonia stage even after they wake up. This makes it impossible to move your body when you are awake.
There are three main categories of hallucinations that people with sleep paralysis describe. Everyone with the condition suffers one of the three. The first one is the Incubus. When a person suffers from this type, they will feel intense pressure on their chest. It often feels like someone is sitting on top of them, and it makes breathing difficult. Researchers believe that this is just the mind playing tricks. Walking up feeling this pressure can be scary, which makes it difficult to breathe.
People who experience this symptom often see a shadowy figure lurking in their bedroom as they slip into sleep paralysis. There isn’t anyone there, obviously. Experts believe that this is a hypervigilant state of the midbrain. This means that the brain perceives even the slighted stimuli as a threat. A typical sound can cause a person in sleep paralysis to become terrified.
Some people with sleep paralysis report feeling as though they have levitated out of their own body and they are hovering over it. During the REM stage of sleep, there are parts of the brain that inhibit movement while you are sleeping and they become activated. According to Daniel Denis, a cognitive neuroscience researcher, you feel like your moving because the area of the brain that coordinates is overactive.
How To Prevent Sleep Paralysis
Preventing sleep paralysis and breaking out of it can be difficult, but it is possible. First, to avoid the phenomenon altogether is to avoid sleeping on your back. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done. It is difficult to stay on your side while you are sleeping. If you wake up and you are in paralysis, you should focus on your muscles. You are going to be scared so this might be hard, but if you can concentrate on moving a muscle, even just the slightest movement in your finger, it can break the paralysis. Finally, sleep deprivation can cause sleep paralysis; therefore, you should strive to get 8-hours of sleep each night.
Who Is At Risk For Sleep Paralysis
While anyone can have sleep paralysis, there are a few conditions that put a person at greater risk. People with bipolar are especially susceptible to this phenomenon. The same is true with people who have narcolepsy. If you suffer from frequent leg cramps, you are also at risk.
You Will Be Fine
While sleep paralysis can be terrifying, the good news is that if you have it, you will be fine. Nobody has ever died during a sleep paralysis episode. If you let it run its course, you will be able to move again, and you can go on with your day.